"The reason WHEELIE grew is I fell in love with making shit."
This week's minisode covers what Lisa hates about marketing and how to embrace the creative process during the era of COVID-19. If you're a business owner, marketer, creative, or leader, this episode will explain why people matter more than numbers and how the athlete mindset helps in business.
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Intro: You're listening to Outside by Design podcast about the business of creativity in the outdoor industry. This podcast is brought to you by WHEELIE, a creative agency for people who thrive outside. We help connect people with themselves, each other, and the natural world through communication and creative work that makes people feel feelings and take action. Basically, we're all about making marketing that matters. This is our podcast about leveling up yourself, your brand, and your community through powerful creative work.
Iris: Hey Lisa.
Lisa: Hey Iris. Happy work from home.
Iris: Happy work from home to you too!
Lisa: Thank you. So it's an interesting time as an agency owner because... so we, we do this thing now where we have these morning meetings where we do video chats, um, which are, they're fun. I think.
Iris: I think it's fun when we wear costumes, but really only two of us are participating in that escapade.
Lisa: It's true. You guys are killing it. But you know, and then, so at 9:00 AM we have team meetings every morning via Google Hangouts. And I think it's fun and it's nice to like look at each other's faces. And, um, I've been feeling sometimes like a shitty leader during that time because, um. I don't really know what to say about COVID-19 sometimes, where it's like, “yep, everything's changing” and “yep, who knows how it'll be next week.” And, um, I feel like there's a lot of advicegiving on the internet right now, and I haven't really wanted to participate in advice-giving when like, I'm sorry, I don't really have any advice for global pandemic. If feels a little bit, um... It feels, I don't know. Do you know what I mean, Iris?
Lisa: Like, like, I don't like…
Iris: Like everyone's telling me to work out from home as if not being able to go to the gym was what was stopping me from working out.
Lisa: [laughs] Well that and, and just like, here's what you do. Like, here's what you can do for your business when there is a global pandemic and it's like, well, I've owned the business for 11 years and I don't, I don't know what to do during a global pandemic. But the one thing I can say is that I hate marketing.
Iris: Which is offensive to me.
Lisa: [laughs] And it's offensive as an agency owner, it's offensive to all our clients, and it's kind of, it's sort of like this funny offensive thing. But let me explain myself. Okay. Which is like, I feel really strongly about it, is like, I do not like marketing, BUT I own a marketing creative agency. So let me explain it because I think WHEELIE is amazing. We are very successful. Our client roster is like, we have brands from the North Face to Polartec to Specialized, Industry Nine, 10 Barrel Brewing. And it's like the funnest place to work with, like, phenomenal human beings. I absolutely love our crew. Um, you know, and like, man do we do some good projects. Like, we built road gaps for a Superbowl commercial last year and we've gone all over the country to sit with like in-house marketing teams and, um, kind of help figure out a creative direction for the whole year. And sometimes we go ride mountain bikes with 350 women in the desert and carry camera gear and film permits and make beautiful feature films. So it's really, I think it's awesome. It's like physical and emotional and intellectual. And I've, in 11 years, I've never even once been bored. Like, I can't even believe that that's what we do day to day.
But the reason that I hate marketing is because I really, really can't stand the like, “yep, we sell stuff.” Like that selling mindset. I love, I love sales, don't get me wrong, but what needs to come before the sales stuff, marketing, like, trying to sell jackets, is the human connection and, and the creative process. And so when people feel invested in what a brand stands for, it kind of becomes their story too. That's our belief.
So like, people become part of a culture of standing for something like freedom or conservation or connection with nature. And so like you commit to a brand for a long term, and it's never really about the jacket. It's, it's where the jacket takes someone and how, how you feel when you get there. And that jacket becomes just a souvenir of your story. And there's heart in that and there's honor in that. And, you know, a lot of times I spend time in meetings talking about ROI and KPI and CPM and you know, just like these hard numbers without any reference to like the human beings who choose to spend their hard earned money on a new jacket. And so that's… I think it really, really means something when you choose to buy from a specific brand.
Lisa: and you're not just a metric, you're not a number and you're not like a sliver on a bar graph. It's like that... that dark side of marketing where people are metrics makes me want to like throw my laptop in a puddle and like just disappear to the wilderness forever. [laughs]
Um, you know, but I think where I'm going with this is like, when I started WHEELIE 11 years ago, I never went into it being like, you know what I want to be? A boss lady.
Lisa: Hashtag. I hate the term boss lady. But I like, I wasn't thinking like I want to be a boss or like, I want to go be an entrepreneur. Um, I wasn't really thinking I'd ever have employees. I don't really know that I was thinking. But, but I, I just like started designing, right? I was handing out business cards on chairlifts. I was snowboarding every day and I was like, fresh out of college, kid with a design degree, a snowboard in one hand, a laptop in the other, just like living in full alignment and like just so obsessed with the process of making things.
And so like, the, the reason WHEELIE grew is just because like, I fell in love with making shit.
Lisa: And like, I loved talking to people and I loved listening to what they, what they were dreaming of for their business. and then making logos and talking about, you know, different ways that their brand could look. And I liked thinking about things really, really deeply and designing and making, and making websites and coming up with new ways to do things. And like, uh, then started hiring people and like, I loved sitting with, with another designer and like, combining ideas into a super idea. And, um kind of spending a lot of time thinking about like what people care about and why. Right?
And it's like... where I'm going with all this is like life... life is about loving that process and not the end result. So like in COVID-19, like I have no fucking advice for like what to do. Like, I don't have that end result or that KPI of like when this happens, do this. But I can say like, if you can just hang and view this as part of the process, maybe it's going to be okay.
Iris: I like that.
Lisa: Yeah. It's not about that end goal. I love the power of visualization, and I love, I believe in manifestation and I believe in all of that kind of thing. But - simply having that idea, that end goal and seeing where you want to go, like that's not enough to keep you in the game when life gets hard and like you're in a shit storm of entrepreneurship and business and pandemics. Like, if you don't love that process, which is good, it's bad, it's exhausting, then, then it's not, you're not gonna make it. And so... I guess in this, like, big scheme of advice-giving, my only advice is like if you don't love the process, you're not going to make it. But if you love the process, it's that, that love, that passion for the process and the passion for the bad problems and the good problems - you're always going to have problems, but like are these problems worth it to you? That's going to get you through this. That's going to get us through it. And like that, that process is enough to get you through highs and lows of business. And like, I just love, I love our creative process.
Lisa: What's your favorite part of the process at WHEELIE?
Iris: I think, like, being in the middle of it, the middle of the creativity and um, like being deep in something for two hours and just having your headphones in and spilling words out onto a Google doc or pulling photos together and then like when time starts to just fly by because you're so deep into the creation zone. That's like the best part.
Lisa: It is. It is. And it's the same... It's the same in action sports too. Like, I love, like, what it takes to go snowboarding. Like, obviously I love summiting and I love shredding pow more than anything, but I also love getting up early and hiking and - like, I love packing my backpack and I love sharing snacks with my friends and having big conversations on the skin track, or like sitting on a chair lift and giggling, and I love closing day when you get to like throw PBRs at all your friends. Or like training for a marathon, like, training is so much more fun than the marathon itself. So like, athletes are so familiar with the love of the process and the love of the game, more about like the stats. And so that's kind of also that athlete mindset really, really helps in business, I think.
Lisa: Yeah. So I guess in conclusion, whether I'm a shitty leader or whether this episode felt kind of pedantic, my real advice is like, if you don't love the process, then fuck it. Do something else. Like, this is the time. You can blame… you can make so many moves in your life right now and just blame it on COVID-19
Lisa: Just make some changes. If you don't like the process, change it. But if you, if you like the problems and you like those highs and you like those lows and… you know, if you're like Iris and you like figuring out like, okay, we need to change all the messaging I just wrote for a month so it doesn't sound tone deaf or whatever. Right? Like, like that's a problem. But if you like that process, then like, stay in it. Right? But if, if, if you're someone out there that is like freaking out and not excited about the, the actual, like, this is a hell of a low and we're going to be okay. Right?
Lisa: Then, yeah, I mean, you have to just fall back on, on being in love with the work that you're doing and like, this is the work. There's going to be a lot of work coming up, and it's not really a free ride right now. So anyway, that's my 2 cents on being in business for 11 years.
Iris: And why you hate my major?
Lisa: Yeah, why I hate your major. Uh, but I like you. And yeah, it's just, I don't know. I think like people ask for business advice of me a lot because 11 years is a long time to be in business.
And um, it sometimes feels like it's been luck, but really I think it has just been passion and like work, you know, like, I would so much for either make a documentary about grizzly bear behavior, then like, I was going to go try to surf for a month this summer, and then this grizzly bear project came up and I was like, oh my gosh, I would so much rather film grizzly bears. Like, I just can't get away because I just so in love with what we do. So Iris, I think you're stuck with me.
Iris: All right.
Lisa: It could be worse.
Iris: From a distance though.
Lisa: [laughs] Yeah. From a distance. So that's my 2 cents, and I'm wrong a lot and I'm okay with being wrong a lot, but you know, at least we're all in it together.
Iris: Yeah, we are.
Lisa: Thanks for, um, thanks for listening.
Iris: Thanks for joining us on this minisode adventure.
Lisa: Yeah. If you'd like to hear other topics or you want to do a Q&A, or you have a question for Iris or me about social media or about your brand or about your new tactics for, um, getting more digital than you'd like to be, just like hit us up. DM us on Instagram or send an email.
Iris: Send an email. And if you liked this minisode episode, or if you like the podcast in general, we'd love it if you would give us a review on iTunes. It really helps us get to more people.
Lisa: Yeah. Party on. Stay strong.
Iris: Stay strong.
Lisa: And love your process.